3 tips to accessorise your kitchen on a budget

So here is the situation, you just spent a small fortune on getting the kitchen of your dreams and well there is no money left over to decorate/accessorise it. Well that was our reality. The kitchen itself was all finished, however we still needed a buffet/hutch cabinet, finish up the coffee station set up and generally set up the accessories. The hutch was needed as we originally planned for the kitchen company to make a display/buffet cabinet however we had to draw a line on the costs. So I had to get my thinking cap on to figure out how I could achieve the look and function we wanted on a small budget, or rather next to no budget.

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I really needed to resolve the Hutch issue as I had everything still in boxes and I needed to access the items in the boxes on a daily basis. Both Pete and I had an idea of what would look good in the space but we were finding it hard to actually find the "perfect" cabinet. At first we were thinking a long low buffet in white, like this one from Farmers , obviously not in our price range at that point.  Even on special it was too pricy and Pete was not a big fan of it. I also realised that I really want space to display some of my tea sets and other collections. This meant that we were more likely to have to source a hutch/cabinet and that it would probably have to be second hand. 

TIP # 1  - Thrift Shopping

Yip that's the first tip !!! Go hunting in those great secondhand/preloved/hospice shops for what you are looking for.  As some of my followers would know I am a bit of a thrift shopper. I have found some real gems over the years, especially from Hospice shops, and here on the North Shore in Auckland , the North Shore Hospice shops are fantastic. So our plan was to go looking in our favourite ones and also check out  Trade Me , using Watch List to flag and track items that we were interested in. I was planning on getting a hutch/cabinet and repainting using chalk paint. 

Just a bit of advice at this point..... you do need to be patient Thrift shopping , it can take a while to find what you are after. It's good to do some research on what the best shops are for what you want, as some specialise in clothes, others books or furniture. Also you really need to be going into these shops regularly as items come in and out very quickly and they are all one offs, in other words you can't dilly dally round with making your decision, if you see something grab it!. Last bit of advice, be really clear with what you want, function and size most important so know your measurements. This also ensures that you don't distract yourself with other items you see which are like "that's cool but it is not practical and I don't need it" . Case in point is the fabulous "Girl with the Pearl Earring" picture below which I picked up for $2....totally not looking for it ...but what a find...I just love her!

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After a few disheartening trips I thought that we would never find what we needed.  I was happy to repaint, put new hardware on, so open to old stuff that just needed a bit of a jazz up! I decided to check out a store that I always noticed but had never been in, it was a local used furniture store called Glenfield furniture new & used . Initially I didnt really see anything I thought useful, however I then noticed the colour.  There was a large grey wall cabinet, which was placed behind a while lot of other pieces, so I could only see a small part of it. The colour jumped out at me as it was almost exactly the same as the kitchen cabinets. On closer inspection it was actually an office cabinet made by McGreals here in Auckland. My first reaction was, no that's not going to work! However the size and the functionality were actually perfect, not to mention the colour. (bonus no repainting) and it was a great quality cabinet. So I started to think may be it could work as a hutch. It even had silver hardware like the kitchen cabinets. The guy at the shop was a bit surprised that I was thinking of using it in the Kitchen, however once I showed him the space and the kitchen he could see it working. So here in lies a lesson, always be open to ideas and seeing things in different ways, you never know what you might end up with. And best of all it was only $240!. 

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At the same time as looking for the Hutch I was looking for accessories for the coffee station area. The machines were all in place so we just wanted to get a small floating shelf above the machines and essentially have a coffee themed area.  A bit like the office cabinet discovery, I walked into the local Hospice shop and there they were. A framed pair of pictures of Paris cafes scenes and the colour tones were perfect. Not only that but the pictures were narrow and long which were perfect for where they were to be hung. $15 each... thank you! So my coffee station got a Parisian theme to it...very apt I thought. The floating shelf was actually new, just purchased from the local Bunnings store, not a huge cost thank goodness. 

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The "dressing" of the Hutch and coffee station shelf were the last step in my accessorising and so this takes me to tip # 2

TIP # 2 - Shopping the home

Do not go and buy a whole lot of accessories without checking out what you can use from your home. For my hutch accessories I just used things that I had tucked away but meant a lot as well as things that I use regularly. I am sure that we have all got things like this about the house which you can use. I used my two tea sets, one was Pete`s Mums, given to her by her husband (Pete's Dad). which he got from Japan as he worked in Japan just after the end of WWII to help the rebuild. The other one is the tea set my Mum was given by her employers when she left work to get married. Yip it was only a generation ago that women were expected to finish work when they got married! I also have some of my favourite tea pots that I have been given over the years which I got out. Added to this was my collection of silverware that I had around the place, again bringing them together they make great accessories. 

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I did have a cake stand and 2 tiered stand that I was going to donate as the colour was old fashioned. So rather than giving them away, I just spray painted them white and used them to help display my items in the Hutch. I was tickled pink with how they can out. 

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Over in the coffee station area on the shelf I just put up my tea cup and saucer and pots that I use regularly as well as some coffee kit. This is what I would refer to as on hand accessories!!

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The last thing I did was to create a touch of greenery by just rehousing existing plants that I had in the house.

TIP # 3 - Groupings

This last tip is more of a styling tip and one that is not new by any means. However when you have limitations on accessories and budget this can be a good one to try in order to create "style".   It's just about taking like items and housing them together. So in my case I have grouped by colour and by use. 

  • Hutch - used white and blue colours with silver accents plus grouped like objects being tea pots, tea cups, silverware
  • Coffee Station - grouped by colour and use. All coffee and tea pots together
  • Chopping boards - grouped all wooden chopping boards together and corralled them into a round tray, adding useful items like seasoning grinders and dressings 
  • Oils and Utensils - all oils and vinegars together and all the cooking utensils in a jug by the hob

Overall the accessories in the kitchen are not actually for display only they are actually for daily use but housed in a way that creates a sense of style to the kitchen and is therefore a great way to accessorise.

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There you have it! My 3 tips, which you can pretty well apply to any aspect of your home, if you are wanting to accessorise and style it up a bit. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got a few ideas on other options for accessories other than buying new. 

The  other important thing to be aware of is the low foot print you create by simply upcycling something or just reusing something that you already have. Just think of the all the packing plastic you have saved by not buying something new which comes covered in way too much packaging. 

Before I go, if you are decorating/accessorising your shelves, here is a great tip...always accessorise in 3's and at different heights.

Happy accessorising and thrift shopping everyone

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P.S Stay tuned for my next post as I will be taking you through the full Kitchen reveal...exciting. To make sure you don't miss it, just sign up to my newsletter , pop your details below, which gives me consent to allow me to email you with all the latest from Tidying with Tania

 

 

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How I try for a stressless Christmas.

I am so excited to be joining 11 amazing Kiwi Mummy Bloggers, in the "12 Days of Christmas - A Blog Collaboration". We have a had a fantastic variety of topics of Christmas themed posts e.g. Craft Decorations, DIY gifts, Gift Inspiration ideas, Recipes and Family traditions. Yesterday, Day 10, we got a great treat from Hey Little Sweet Thing with her recipe for those yummy Dark Chocolate and Nutella Snowball Truffles. Tomorrow is the 12th Day and the last blog and we are visiting Karen from The Fruitful Homemaker  who is going to be chatting to us about making the ultimate Christmas Smoothie . Be sure to pop over after midday and have a read.

So today, Day 11, it's my turn, a little bit of stress relief in between some tasty treats!

Let me just say up front that the title of this blog maybe a bit exaggerated, not sure that one can actually have an entirely stressless Christmas. However, over the years of running around like a chicken with its head off, I have learnt a thing or two to help prevent you being taken away in a straight jacket! So I thought I`d share what I found that helped me through this crazy season!

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Plan it out!

Yes this boring old chestnut! let me say this right now, you actual have to do some planning if you want to stop simply running from one state of madness to the next. Planning does actually mean that you know what is coming next and so it actually feels like you are in some form of control.

I always started with my December calendar and marked out all the dates that I knew we had coming up. To help make sure that I got everything I would just think of all the activities and events that were coming up for all the family, such as;

  • School functions - prize giving, dinners, class picnic. lunches etc 
  • Sports functions  - end of year awards, BBQ`s
  • Family gatherings 
  • Friends get togethers
  • Work do's
  • Street parties 
  • School break dates
  • Work finish dates (if you are lucky enough to get a break)

After marking out the calendar, I worked out what was needed for each event and who had to go. I tell you that juggling the school activities while working full time is a challenge so if you can try to share this with your partner and extended family, like grandparents. Planning out the events meant that you can book in your helpers in advance, rather than ringing around the night before trying to get someone to help. Even better was working in with other parents so you can help each other out. 

Now to give yourself a bit of a treat and to help with planning, why not get yourself a Christmas Planner. I scored a Kikki K Christmas Planner in their January sales. Apart from having to re-write the December dates (2016 calendar) it's a great little planner and nice and small for your bag.

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There are also heaps of printable Christmas planners, just like this one from The Fruitful Homemaker  or a little more OTT with Brilliant Business Moms which came free this year to all her email subscribers. 

Stash it

"Stashing it" can save your bacon, and did mine so many times over the years. So quite literally this just means having a  stash of presents and food for any unplanned and forgotten events and visitors. I would just buy extra boxes of Sampler biscuits pre wrap them and just pull them out like I had planned the present..boom baby. You could also do a batch of home baking and make up wee Christmas hampers or treats in a jar...for a bit of inspiration just check out these great Christmas Truffles from Hey Little Sweet Thing that would be perfect for this.

In regards to food for events, which often were "bring a plate!" it helped me to always have a "go to" dish! This was either hokey pokey biscuits or carrots and humus, for a bbq or meal, it was potato salad.

TIP 2: Stash emergency cash in the car and at home for those emergency runs to the store for a gift or for takeaways. 

TIP 3: Stash energy bars and water in the car to hold off those starving kids who are Hangry!

Buy it

This is the fun part......who doesn't love spending up a storm on christmas present. But you don't really want to go into debt doing this.

TIP 4: Have a budget and use cash only to stop you going over the budget.

If you can, list out the presents you need to buy and try and purchase a couple per week over December. The same goes with your Christmas and Holiday food,  just add a few items (non-perishable)  into your weekly shop during December, then you only need to buy the perishables closer to the day.  I found that this really helped with the budget and pressure at the end of December.

2016 christmas , all hospice shop finds !

2016 christmas , all hospice shop finds !

 

Also don't forget to schedule in your shopping time. DO NOT....what ever you do, leave your shopping to the last minute, that is maximum stress level right there.

TIP 5: Go shopping on your own if you can, take the list, go to the mall, only shop for what's on your list, use cash only.

TIP 6: Christmas savings - set aside a small amount each week from the 1st Jan. I used a cash envelope and put in $20 a week plus $10 on the Pak'nSave Christmas club card. This essentially was our total Christmas budget.

My cash envelope system

My cash envelope system

 

Just Relax 

I always tried to get everything done by Christmas Eve so I could just sit back and relax and enjoy being with my family. So make sure when you are planning out what you need to do to actually plan for "relax day" on Christmas eve!. 

To help you get into the relaxing mood, check out this simple cocktail recipe at Parental Misadventures

So there you have it, these are the things that I found worked for me in surviving the month of madness!

Now for this year's Christmas.....well it has to be the least stressful ever!

Our Christmas 2017

This year Christmas is very very low key.  We are renovating our Kitchen, bathroom and ensuite also decorating the lounge, master bedroom, dinning room and two guest rooms. So one half of the house is currently a demolition zone and we are living in the other half. I don`t even have the Christmas tree up, however I have managed to find some where to hang the stockings!

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Our two kiddies, will be home for Christmas day, however as we don't really have any cooking facilities our dear friends are having us over on Christmas day and we will feast like Kings! 

The other tradition that we started last year and it was soo much fun, was to shop for gifts only at hospice shops and you can`t spend over $20 each person. We found some absolute gems, cheap and recycled ...the perfect gift, so we are doing it again this year. 

So now the kids are grown up it is certainly a lot calmer coming into Christmas, but it's funny as I kind of miss it!! 

Have a fabulous Christmas and enjoy the precious time with your family, even if they come in all excited at 4am!

 

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It's been such a privilege to have been part of the "12 Days of Christmas - A Blog Collaboration".  We have certainly been treated to some awesome blogs by 11 amazing Kiwi Mummy Bloggers. I have included a full list of all the bloggers taking part in the blog collaboration below, so you can see who has posted their blog on what day. You can also find all us on Facebook and Instagram - simply search #KMB12DaysofChristmas.

 

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Day 1 (1st December) My Other Name is Mum  

Day 2 (2nd December) Teacher by trade, Mother by nature

Day 3 (3rd December) Life With Lochlan 

Day 4 (4th December) Misses Mac 

Day 5 (5th December) Eva - The Living One

Day 6 (6th December) Caroline Larnach

Day 7 (7th December) KidsPlayNZ

Day 8 (8th December) Parental Misadventures

Day 9 (9th December)  Sweet Pea Homestead

Day 10 (10th December) Hey Little Sweet Thing

Day 11 (11th December) Tidying With Tania 

<---- YOU ARE HERE ----> 

Day 12 (12th December)  The Fruitful Homemaker



 

 

 

 

 

 

meal planning for beginners

How many times have you heard "what's for dinner"? either from your nagging kids or your inner voice reminding you that you have to sort dinner out! If I told you that there was a way to make that stupid question go away would you believe me?  Well actually there is and it's called meal planning. I initially started meal planning when the kids were little, Pete and I both working full time. It made such a huge difference to our week and to this day, even though the kids have grown and flown, we still meal plan. Meal planning is really simple, easy, it saves heaps of time and your week feels a lot less crazy. And as a bonus it will actually save you money. It's a great way to manage the food budget. In this post I take you through all the steps to make this easy for you. I also have FREE printable for you and some great tips to get you on your way.

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Meal Planning is actually very easy, just plan in advance what meals you are going to cook each night over a week, fortnight or month. Easy eh!!!! For me I follow these simple steps;

  • Decide the planning cycle

  • Check my planner for upcoming activities & events

  • Choose my meals to cook

  • Shop

  • Cook

The first step you want to do, is to work out how often you want to meal plan, I call this the planning cycle.

WOrk out your Planning Cycle

From my experience the best way to work this out is to line it up with your shopping routine. I plan our meals from Monday to Sunday as we shop on Sundays. When we shopped fortnightly, I planned fortnightly.

Just a quick tip, I find weekly planning  a lot easier, as you normally know what you will be doing during that week and able to plan the meals around that. However another week out there are likely to be things that come up that you have not planned for. So you do need to have flexibility in planning the longer your cycle is.

Check your upcoming events and activities

The first thing I do is to check  my planner, checking for what's on that week, evening activities and so on. I note which nights we can cook and which nights we will be really busy. Therefore planning out the best options for dinner to fit around our activities.

Let's take this weeks meal planning. This week we have extra visitors at the end of the week and I am travelling in the early part of the week. So for us this week, I know that for Friday night we will have more people to cook for and Saturday night we are hosting our party, so we need a quick gab dinner. Sunday will be late so we will have to do something quick and easy. 

So this week we need a variety of quick and easy meals and some pre made meals, like slow cooker meals.  

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Now that you have sorted what the week looks like and which nights you need to plan the meals for then, it's just a matter of choosing the meals.

Choosing the meals to cook

For me the meals need to be quick, easy, healthy and budget friendly. I also have to balance our different food tastes. Pete likes meaty, spicy and really hot food, more spicy hot Asian style, where as I like less spice and chillies and more vegetarian. The biggest challenge for meal planning is finding inspiration for meal ideas.

So how do I find meal ideas? 

There are great online food bloggers and pretty much any food genre you want. I would suggest using Pinterest for this, just set up your own recipe board, search for meal ideas and pin the recipes to your board. As you can see I have done that on my Pinterest page. Also check out some of your favourite chiefs and they are likely to have a website, sign up for their weekly newsletter and you can get meal inspiration to your inbox every week.

Also local supermarkets have great websites with food and meal inspiration and your can have the added bonus of shopping online.  Countdown is a good example and there is a great app that you can use as well. I also have one favourite cookbook on the go which I will refer to as well. Tip,  just as an idea you could have a monthly cookbook theme.

My favourite cookbook when the kids where at home and we were pressed for time was Jamie Olivers 15 min meals. I would go through his book every week and pick out yummy meals.

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It does make it easier and quicker if you have a good stock of recipes or meal ideas that you can refer to when planning them out. A good tip is to make up your own home recipe folder

Another tip, try and have meals that use seasonal ingredients as they are cheaper and fresher, like a cabbage and carrots in winter for slaw versus a lettuce variety salad. Also try to share ingredients across meals - mince 1kg - split in half over two meals.  Veges, like spinach, half bag for one meal, half for another. This really helps to reduce your food waste and is a cheaper way to shop.

Prepare your shopping list 

Once I have decided which meals to cook for the week , I then work out which ingredients we will need to buy. On my meal planning page I note beside the meal what I need to buy then just transfer that onto my catch all shopping list. The other thing that is really handy is that I note the reference, i.e where the recipe is from. E.g if it's from the cookbook I would just have the page number as the reference. As I have variety of sources of meal ideas this referencing is really helpful.

To make this easier for you I have a created a FREE weekly meal planner printable for you to use.  As you plan out your meals just note down the side what you need from the supermarket. It's really handy to have on you when doing the shopping. To receive this FREE weekly meal planner download just sign up below;

FREE Meal planner

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Display your Meal Menu

This may seem a bit strange to display your meals for the week, but trust me it's worth it!. Firstly everyone can see the meals, so no need to ask what's for tea...."it's on the board" secondly if someone else has to cook they know which meal to make. And lastly it makes you accountable to actually cook the meals!  Once you have written them down and got them up for all to see if does commit you to making them. As in the end meal planning will not really be of any use if you just end up not cooking and getting takeaways instead!! (tempting as that may be sometimes)

My menu display board is just a photo frame with a piece of card stock behind and I use a whiteboard maker. I just wipe it down each week and write up the new menu....easy as that. 

Hints and Tips to help with meal planning

  • Try and maintain a pantry with the staple items, so all you need to do is to buy the meat and vegetables.

  • Collect recipes from magazines, cooking shows, subscribe to food blogs.

  • Use your family's favourites meals, when our kids were younger Shepherds Pie, Lasagne, Bolognase, Sausage Casserole and Homemade burgers were our high rotate.

Summary of steps

I hope this post has given you some useful information to help you get started with meal planning. Meal planning is such a simple and easy thing to do and does make such a difference to your life. Remember the 5 simple steps;

  1. Choose your planning cycle

  2. Check my planner for upcoming activities & events

  3. Choose my meals to cook

  4. Shop

  5. Cook

Get inspiration on a weekly basis on my facebook page, 7nightsaweek , it's dedicated to my weekly meal planning and so each week I share my meal plans, provide links to recipes and share any meal ideas and tips that I have come across.

Happy meal planning my friends!

Love to have you join the Tidying Tribe, join us on Instagram , Facebook and Pinterest , just click below.

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 If you found this post helpful ….check out my other featured posts below


 

Valentines Dinner meal planning on a budget

Pete and I always make sure that we take the time to do something nice on our Wedding Anniversary, and because it falls in February we have our very own Valentine celebration. Every year we make sure that we celebrate in style. The last two years, we have had lovely holidays away to celebrate. So, this year it was going to be at home. None the less, it was still going to be special. I love having a genuine experience with the person who rocks my world.  So this year we decided that we would indulge in a big feast.

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We both love to cook together, however we don`t get much quality time during the normal weekly madness to do this.  So to have an excuse to stop and enjoy was perfect. It also helped that eating at home was going to be cheaper as we have some financial goals this year and need to stay on budget.

First things first, decide on the menu, which had to be three courses...because we were going all out. We got all our recipes from a beautiful cook book given to us by our dear friends (you know who you are) called "Feast, Our Food out east". It's filled with delicious recipes from eateries and local people from Gisbourne and the East coast.  I just love the illustrations of the magic that is the East coast and their bounty of cuisine.

After a bit of discussion (like any good marriage)  we came up with the following menu:

The Menu

Entree - Mussel and Bacon soup

Main - The Grill Room's Beef Fillet with Parsnip Puree and Mushroom Dressing

Dessert- Home made Passionfruit Ice Cream and Donuts East Coast style

 

The planning

Now that the menu was sorted, it was just a matter of working out what we needed to buy and when. The fresher the better, so we shopped for most of the fresh produce on the day. We shopped at our local food market, Simply Fresh, it's an excellent local community hub and has fabulous variety of fresh produce from vegetables, fruit to meat, poultry and almost everything in between......and if you spend over $40 you get a free coffee (and the coffees good). 

The rest of the planning was just ensuring that we had everything sorted in the kitchen and pantry all ready to go for the big cooking session. Also, just working through how long it would take to make each course.......you don`t want to still be cooking at 2am !

We actually prepared a couple of dishes, Ice cream and donuts before the evening. Its good to make as much as you can beforehand to reduce the amount of work to do on the night.

The Table Setting

I love decorating the table and making a lovely setting. It took all of my will power to resist going out and buying up a storm on lovely new dinning accessories, glassware, cutlery and so on. The rule was to shop the house. Confession time, I did however manage to find two beautiful big soup bowls from Nest and two gorgeous dark blue dinner plates at our local thrift shop for $2 each. However everything else from the home. 

I layered up the plates so we had a clean plate already for each course and the same for the glasses. The best part was that I got to use my beautiful antique cutlery service (Wedding gift from my Nana). Oh a hint: it's the 'outside in' if you were wondering!  When I was setting them up I realised that I really need to use these a lot more as it seems a shame just to keep such beautiful objects housed away for the occasional use.....I think I have found another goal for the year.! Like I need another one.

As I am not really a fan of Valentine themed decor...., I used the exisiting table runners and placemats as I really like them and the colours went well together.  I was really happy with the end look, not over the top, functional, cheap and my style ...hmm feeling good. 

A bit of splurging was done on some nice flowers from the local florist, she made up a bunch for me for $34. The bunch was a mix of me and Petes favourites.

 

The cooking

This is the part that Pete and I love, sharing the cooking experience, and then sitting down together to enjoy what you have just made together. 

We work to our strengths, Pete's good on the actual cooking part, especially the meat and I am good at getting the all ingredients chopped and ready and making salads. So if you are venturing into the kitchen to cook together it's helpful to work out what each of you will do, best to do what you are good at.......and if you both good at the same thing......well your stuffed!!!! My advise here would be just try not to argue too much and get in each others way.

 

The soup was first up and it was sooo yummy. It was very easy to cook, and the dish meant that we could cook it a bit early and eat it when we were ready, which we did.

And so it continued for each course, taking it slow to allow time to digest, enjoy and cook. I have to say we did consume a bit of wine. It's amazing how much you get through while cooking as well as eating...be warned!!!

Is was about 11pm when we finished up with the dessert and coffee and the homemade Ice cream which was to die for!

Okay, so what about the dishes? We actually cleaned and cleared as we cooked, so there was not a lot left at the end of he night. So it wasn't an issue....and there was no way either of us could face a big mess of dishes at the end of the night. 

It was a fabulous night, lots of fun and it only cost $83, pretty cheap I think for a great night! 

So if you are looking for a low key, romantic and cheap Valentines night I would totally recommend this. 

Enjoy my little love bird!